Everything we do, and everything we don't do, makes a difference.
At Town, we work to foster resilience, encourage creative and critical thinking, and give our students the tools they need to ensure a sustainable future. Educating for sustainability is teaching children to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. We must recognize that all living things and natural systems are interdependent, and in turn, put this understanding to use in our lives, our communities, and the world in which we live. This is a world for which we are all responsible.
Sustainability and community action are woven throughout the curriculum and students work on projects that meet real and specific needs of the communities they learn about in school, allowing them to use academic skills and knowledge in real life situations. Town also offers opportunities each year for our entire community - students, parents, faculty, staff, and aluni/ae families - to come together in support of a service project.
Partnerships and Recent Projects
April Earth Day observances: Led by members of the Upper School Sustainability club, in 2016 we all pledged to " Do one thing" - changing one behavior, making one specific individual commitment to help support a sustainable future. And we shared our best ideas with the world through social media. Upper School students also designed reusable water bottles to encourage their fellow community members to reduce waste and 'take back the tap.'
ASPCA: in May 2016 we collected towels and linens to help make homeless pets more comfortable in shelters.
Association to Benefit Children: in May 2016 6th graders volunteered at two NYC locations and learned about ABC’s many programs for children in need.
Beczak Environmental Education Center: 2nd graders periodically take an educational field trip to the center and learn all about preservation efforts for the Hudson River.
Carter Burden Center for the Aging: Upper School students often volunteer or make cards for Carter Burden residents.
City Harvest: in October 2016 Town students once again participated in “truck or treat” and raised over $1,000 for City Harvest.
Deaf Link Uganda: In May 2015, Town students and families raised over $2,500 to benefit this organization providing education and support for deaf people living in Uganda. Town's fundraising efforts were in support of school fees for two specific young women, allowing them to advance their education.
Green Markets: 2nd graders take an annual fall field trip to the Union Square Farmers Market to learn more about where our food comes from. They bring back beautiful veggies that our chefs turn into ‘farmers market soup’ for the whole school. Green markets are also a great hub for recycling efforts in the city.
Green Schools Alliance (GSA): Town is a founding member of the Green Schools Alliance, a global peer-to-peer network of pre-K to grade 12 schools working together to solve climate and conservation challenges. Since 2007, the GSA has grown to include participation by more than 5,000 public and private schools in 44 U.S. states and 49 countries representing over three million students. Addressing climate and conservation challenges, GSA’s mission is to connect and empower schools worldwide to lead the transformation to global sustainability. GSA believes schools are hubs of their communities that build resilience, transform markets and policy, shift behavior, and prepare the next generation of innovators to become environmental stewards.
NYC Parks Department: In April, 2016 5th grade students spent a morning cleaning up in our neighboring John Jay Park. In the process the 5th graders learned about the New York City park system and about all of the work that goes into making a park look beautiful. 1st graders, as part of their study of community in 2015-16, made several trips to clean up and plant in John Jay Park.
MillionTreesNYC: The Town community participated in seven planting events over the course of the MillionTreesNYC campaign. Thanks in no small part to Town’s planting efforts over the past several years, Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx is almost fully restored!
January 2017 MulchFest: Approximately 20 members of the Town community gathered for this annual event. Together we dragged discarded Christmas Trees from neighboring streets to the park to be mulched for use in parks and community gardens throughout the city.
New York Cares: In December 2016 we collected coats for NYC people in need.
NYC Sanitation Department: In 2016-17, Town joins hundreds of public schools and community members throughout the city as part of the NYC Sanitation Department's organic waste collection. Organic waste from Town’s lunch and snack is collected by the city for composting rather than being trucked to landfills in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS): In November 2014, Sustainability Coordinator Ken Higgins co-chaired the first ever NYSAIS Educators for Sustainability Summit at Grace Church School. Two Town students were part of the keynote address, sharing their participation in Town sustainability efforts! In April 2015, Ken Higgins presented at the 2nd NYSAIS Educators for Sustainability summit at Rye Country Day School. In 2016, Town students, teachers and alumni/ae helped plan and lead the first ever student-led NYSAIS conference focused on sustainability in schools.
Project Cicero: Every March Town families join this organization’s efforts to collect gently used or new children’s books to help supplement libraries in under-resourced schools. Town continues to be one of the largest school contributors to the NYC Project Cicero Book Drive.
Riverkeeper: Town students periodically join Riverkeeper in large or small groups to help clean up and preserve our rivers and wetlands.
Ronald McDonald House: In fall 2016 we held another successful drive for the Ronald McDonald NYC Parents Pantry Program, which provides non-perishable food and supplies for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House while their children receive treatment for pediatric cancer.
Sandwiches for the Hungry: During their buddy visits after All School Assemblies, Town classes take turns making sandwiches for local soup kitchens and food pantries. It’s an activity student of all ages love and look forward to every year.
Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now): Each year we come together as a community to package nutritious meals for distribution to families in need all over the world. At our January 2016 event, we created 34,000 meal packages and hope to top that number in 2017!
Wearable Collections: Town holds annual textile recycling drives to coincide with the students’ locker clean-out. We also consistently encourage families to recycle clothing and textiles at their local green markets.
Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP): Each spring, the 8th graders participate in a full day of service projects. In past years, they have traveled with YSOP to five different locations across Manhattan and Queens, serving meals at soup kitchens and distributing food, clothing and supplies at food pantries and homeless outreach centers.
Sustainable Facilities Commitment
Town's facility shows a strong commitment to sustainability, including our efforts to use greener sources of paper, power and cleaning supplies.
Town is a member of the Sterling Planet Green Power Consortium. Town joined this green energy consortium in 2014 and in 2015 and 2016 we were named to the EPA’s list of the top 30 K-12 schools using green power! The combined green power use of these organizations amounts to more than 78 million kilowatt-hours of green power annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of more than 7,400 average American homes each year.
In 2008, partnering with The Green Schools Alliance, Town made the commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% in five years. Our EPA Portfolio Manager number at that time was 16, indicating we were more energy efficient than 16% of similar buildings nationally. By 2012, in less than four years, we had improved to 27, an improvement of almost 70%.
Solar panels help provide energy for our science labs.
Food for our daily snack and lunches is sourced from local farms.
In 2012, Town installed a wind turbine on our 4th floor play roof, the first wind turbine at an NYC school!
In 2016-17 we are growing our own vegetables and herbs in the back lobby of the school with our new Tower Garden! We periodically harvest greens for use in our school lunches - the ultimate in 'eating local.'